ActionAid Bangladesh has taken the initiative of opening the first Water Museum in Asia. Established on December 29, 2014, the museum is situated in Patuakhali, and has already received positive feedback from everyday visitors. The goal of building this museum is to make people aware of their numerous river and water resources.
Water from Padma, Meghna, Jamuna, Buriganga, Andhar Manik and many more has been stored in the museum. There are plans to bring water from all 57 Bangladeshi rivers to the museum in the near future.
There are various water related products housed there as well. Information on river related life and livelihood is also offered in the museum. There are photos, documentaries and literatures related to our rivers, to sensitise the public towards water conservation.
"The need to shift our attention to water comes from a history of abuse we have wrought on water and watercourses in a number of ways," says Shamsher Ali, Manager, Programme-Policy-Campaign (Land-Water Rights), Bangladesh. "Large embankments and structural interventions, uncontrolled urbanisation and encroachment, river pollution and mismanagement etc. have taken a toll and manifested into desertification, intrusion of salinity in sweet water bodies, erratic rainfall and biodegradation," he explains.
According to information from ActionAid Bangladesh, the lives and livelihoods of people are adversely affected by the shrinking of rivers. The seven hundred or more rivers and tributaries that crisscross Bangladesh's plain land that gave shape to its economy, culture and heritage are now at risk.
“The South Asian nations lack in adequate initiatives to protect the rivers. We need a realisation and initiative that goes beyond nation-state boundaries," says Ali. "We also need a regional forum that shares resources and responsibilities. We need to realise the peoples' right to water and acknowledge the rights of the rivers."